We’ve all heard that our public schools are failing to educate the people. What they were supposed to do, in the words of their visionary and principal founders, Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann, was to turn out capable, wise, and responsible citizens of the new republic.
And of course the schools have never done anything like this, but they’ve never ceased right up until today, some 200 years since their founding, to defend themselves and what they are doing from the principal charge of having failed to make at least large numbers of us into responsible citizens of our Republic.
I will mention here just two striking bits of evidence of the widespread failure of the schools, just two from many hundreds of them. And these two I take from some of the loudest noises reaching us from the presidential campaign now going on.
There are two groups of primary voters, by and large Republican, who are making most of the noise, and while doing so showing little knowledge, little awareness of the traditional, both liberal and conservative values that have made our country great. Instead, for example, of welcoming immigrants to the country, they would turn them away or what is even worse deport those who are already here. And we need not even speak of the wall they would build.
One large group of the school failures, if not dropouts, are the evangelicals. The real history of the country (not to mention the history of the world) is of no significance alongside their sacred books, that is the writings in the bible. While they ought to have read history, of civilization, and of the planet earth, they have spent their time reading the bible. They don’t seem to have understood that the bible is not a history, but a work, a work of literature, a great one, written by tens if not hundreds of different authors. And author views and opinions, and even wisdom, may be gained by reading the bible, but not the truth, and certainly not what the Evangelicals pretend to know, the knowledge of good and evil.
The evangelicals are in the thralls of their own religious dogma, one that doesn’t free them but ties them to other true believers from other religions. And in fact their allies are the extremist Jewish settlers in Palestine, and the others everywhere like them, including, although they probably won’t admit this, the Sunni and Shia extremists now engaged in a bloody and destructive war where the innocent thousands are being forced to flee or stay and be killed, and this because of their own incorrect reading of their own sacred book the Quran.
The schools ought to have taught their graduates that free and open societies, under the rule of laws created not by God but by representatives of the people, are what holds the promise of the very best life for all of us. And that it is incumbent upon the graduates to preserve that freedom and openness to which the schools ought to have introduced them. Instead, their graduates, and in particular the Evangelicals, would close themselves off from others, destroying what would or should have been a natural acceptance of those different from them in the process, and all the time telling us how to live, citing their sacred work, the bible as the single and sufficient source of truth.
They say they are defending the family. Now it is one thing to defend the family that which by itself may be just fine, but it is something else entirely to begin with one’s own definition of the family, saying what a family is and what it is not, saying for example that families started by two men or two women are not families.
For the hundreds of years of our country’s history, of which the Evangelicals have learned very little while in school or out, a freedom and openness to the new ought to have shown us that families, meaning groups of us, come in all forms, in all sizes, in all colors, and the only truth, the only proof of a family, whether it is a family or not, is how the members treat one another, with compassion and understanding to begin with. For ultimately there is just the one family, the Family of Man, and who would exclude anyone from that?
So far the Evangelicals do not rule the world, “Thank God.”. At the present time there are still thriving groups of moderate and tolerant peoples, in both the Eastern and Western worlds, where open and free societies, under the rule of law and not religion, are considered the very highest good, and where religious dogma, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or other, is the greatest obstacle, Hélas! to their realization.
And the other noise, the second noise of which I speak, coming out of the primary elections, the other bit of evidence of the ignorance of our people? What is that? Well that has to be, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, Donald Trump and his followers.